Thursday, February 22, 2007

Comics: Week of Feb. 21 2007

52 Week 42 - All Ralph issue as his story thread finally finds some redemption with me. Hooray! Gives me a bit more confidence in the master plan.

Civil War #7 - Um, okay. not quite the finish I was hoping for, but rather the one I could see coming. Really kind of ended on an quiet note. Maybe if i read every crossover to this thing, it might have had more kick to it, but as is it's just another status quo reset (and not even a major one). Marvel has always had this division between heroes who operated out in the open and ones that were a bit more vigilante. It's a trait of Millar's that I've noticed: the appearance of a kind of knowing, post-modern tweak or redefinition, but really it's just a return to old-school Marvel themes. Nothing wrong with it, just most times it has a bit more meat.

In the end, it didn't feel emotionally satisfying. Logically, things would make a certain sense, but in my heart things seemed wrong and out of control. I still don't understand Clor and why he was built (and why he was brought back after killing Bill Foster). I don't buy that it would take Cap so long to reach the conclusion that he does. I felt the art was choppy in areas and the wrap-up with Reed's letter was kind of a cheat.

This series ends as a set-up for a bunch of new series, relaunches and events. This series was my big sampler platter of Marvel U. I'd been avoiding most Marvel titles for years (with the odd exception here and there), and this was a chance to bring me back in to the fold. I can't say anything really interests me in any kind of follow-up. My confidence that Marvel will deliver what they say they will deliver is completely eroded. I'll buy X-Factor, but other than that, I think I'll stay away from their mainstream titles.

New Avengers: Illuminati #2 - Done. Man, I really like the idea of this series, but there's nothing to it, particularly in the tension department. How can you pretend to put characters in jeopardy that you know will survive? There are really no stakes here, and it seems to primarily be an indulgence in what is commonly referred to as "continuity porn". It's just not interesting to me.

The Spirit - Beautiful, from cover to cover, literally. Looking at the cover, I realized that DC has been using a kind of flat, semi-gloss paper instead of the high-gloss they use for their other books. It really complements the feel of Cooke's art and the colors. I like that attention to detail.

Another strong outing as we get the origin of The Spirit. Clever use of separate POVs and I loved the change-up in style, from thick brush work to scratchy line art for the flashback.



Thursday, February 15, 2007

Comics: Week of Feb. 14 2007

52 Week 41 - So Charlie died off-panel? I'm not buying it until I see his body. This is all a trick, I tell you.

A trick!

Also, Starfire is rising in my esteem. They're really kind of forging that hard edge she had back in the day.

Astonishing X-Men #20 - Hisako, I think I may have mentioned before, is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I loved the exchange she has with crispy, dented Logan. It was so old school X-Men. I'm sad there are only four issues left in the run, but then when it's all over, I'm going to read them all in one sitting, just like I used to do back in the day when Uncanny was good.

JSA #3 - Is it just me, or has Johns suddenly embraced the ultra-violence? Punching Pantha's head off is one thing (unexpected, dramatic, a little funny) but watching some guy's family being slaughtered seemed a little over the top, especially by a speedster. I'm not complaining as long as the dramatic payoff is earned, and this isn't just a cheap way to raise the stakes.

I was trying to remember who pointed out that Ross's cover for this issue implies that not only does Maxine not wear underwear, but she also uses a depilatory product of some sort. I was sure that it would have been edited from the time it first appeared in Previews to when it hit newsstands, but no. I looked around to find other comments when I ran across the DC message boards. Here are some of my favorites:

"Is Alex Ross implying that Cyclone is the first non-underwear wearing member of the JSA? I think it is a grand move for distracting the foe, but the breezey nature could also distract your friends also."

"She's 19, if that matters. "

"I just hope it's not a factor of where her power stems from... "

"These big vagina women have been getting away with murder for too long."

And one wonders why comic readers are seen as male closet cases. I wouldn't have a problem with it all if it weren't for the typical fan boy mentality around it: the woman-as-object only for sexual desire and fulfillment. This mentality usually involves pointing and saying, "tee hee, she ain't wearing no drawers" which is quickly followed by a) some inappropriate speculation, b) lame, broad demeaning of women's sexuality and c) hasty retreat via condemnation (of the artist, company, etc) because all the crouching masturbators out there are suddenly embarrassed.

Maybe it's me. Maybe it's because the Vagina Monologues is still rattling around in my brain from last week. Maybe it's because this issue came out on Valentine's Day. Maybe it's because I'm tired of weak men treating women as inferior objects... I just want to say get over it and get to know a real girl or something.

Manhunter #28 - Seems like a little bit too much is going on to feel satisfying. We have Shaw off with the St. Dumas gang, Chase getting pulled back into a thread from her own late 90's series and then there's Kate's story. They're trying to tie things up, it's clear. Kate's story is the only one that feels open-ended, as she's being groomed in a way for her transition to Birds of Prey. The others are being resolved, either for good, or for someone else to take up the baton. Shaw's story suffers the most, I think, as there's no good way to reference the whoel Azrael thing. As far as Chase, this may give her character closure that's leftover from her own cancelled series. I'd love for DC to bring her back again, somehow.

I was hoping more for a blow-out, but who knows? There's a rumor that the next big event may stem from something out of this final arc.

Nextwave #12 - Was this planned to end? Some of the dialogue felt positively elegiac, and the interaction between the characters, for once, felt genuine. I'm greatly saddened by the end of this series.

The reveals about who's behind the whole Beyond Corporation felt appropriately weird and logical at the same time. This issue kind of ties the whole thing together in a way that it didn't before. I wonder what Ellis had planned after the first year, and I wonder if he'll ever return. These are probably the most compelling iterations of these characters, ever.
"A M.O.D.O.K. and a M.O.D.A.M. made sweet monkey love by the light of a rack of Worlds of Warcraft servers, and I was the result."




Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Comics: Week of Feb. 7, 2007

A kind of comics ennui has settled over me the last few weeks. Not that I don't love comics, but once in a while, I just get bored. Here are some things I bought last week.

52 Weeks 39 & 40 - The series kind of takes a dip here, for me. Maybe I'm just not that into the Steel/Luthor storyline, I don't know. I was a pretty big build up to Luthor getting superpowers, and then nothing really happens. Alternately, I find that the leadup to the four horsemen (and presumably World War 3) kind of tedious. Get on with it, already.

New Avengers: Illuminati #1 - I like the idea of a group like this. It's the supergroup of the Marvel U... it ties together a lot of diverse corners, which can be a good thing given Marvel's eschewing of continuity these last few years. I loved the idea of Dr. Strange in space, casting spells against science. I just wish it had a little more meat in it for as an extensive retcon as this. I admire it's ambition and I hope it lives up to that.

Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil #1 - The one stand-out this week. I can't think of a marriage of style and content that would be any more perfect than having Jeff Smith on Shazam. I don't know if it's my imagination, but it feels like I've been waiting a long, long time for this. So long, in fact, I was beginning to think it was all an urban legend. My one bit of crabbing is the format. I agree with these guys that given such a kid-friendly story, DC might have thought of putting it into a more kid-friendly format/price point. Even as an adult, I thought it was a little high and unnecessary... I mean, as much as I love it, I'm seriously contemplating waiting for the trade on this. Also, and maybe it was just my shop, but every copy I picked up had damage in the interior.

Yeah, I'm pretty grumpy lately. I've also picked up a bunch of trades and independent stuff throughout the week to recharge, so I'll roll out thoughts on that throughout the week.